NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans have maintained that Derrick Morgan is still the starter at left defensive end, and that is the word he is going with.
For more than a week, Morgan, the Titans’ first-round pick in 2010, has been operating mostly with the second-team line, including in Saturday night’s preseason opener at Seattle. Former practice squad player Pannel Egboh has been getting a majority of the first-team work.
“You guys need to talk to (defensive coordinator) Jerry Gray. He told me I’m the starter, and that’s all I need to worry about,” Morgan said of his current status.
Coach Mike Munchak said he considers Morgan to be a starter, but did say it might depend upon what package the opposing defense attempts against the Titans (No. 21 in the AP Pro32).
“He’s not being limited in playing time. We see him as a starter and playing a lot. It just depends which package is on the field,” Munchak said.
“That’s why defense is so different. If they’re going out there with three wide receivers then you’re going to have a different corner starting, because that’s just how it is. … So, he’s a guy that we consider a starter.”
Morgan has struggled at times to match the production of his draft status. He lost most of his rookie year to a torn ACL, but returned last year to play in the final 15 games after missing the opener to have his injured left knee cleaned out with a second procedure. Thus far, he has just four sacks in 19 career games.
“There’s always high expectations for a first round pick, and this is a make-or-break year for me,” Morgan said. “Regardless of everything else, coming off an injury or whatever, I always have high expectations of myself, and that’s how I approach every day. I’m expecting a big year for myself, God willing, and that’s how I’m going to approach every day.”
As for his goals, Morgan would like to erase the doubts about him with a big season.
“The goal of a defensive end is always to get double-digit sacks, and God willing, I’ll get to that. That’s what I’m working for,” Morgan said.